Disney in Daniel?

Disney makes a big deal (and a lot of money) about making dreams come true. I’ve only been there once and I don’t recall having my dreams come true, but maybe that just means I should go more often. How many times does it take, I wonder?

Speaking of making dreams come true, some people suggest that Daniel 3 is doing just that for Daniel 2. In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about a statue. In chapter 3, he builds one. So, the suggestion goes, maybe he was trying to construct the statue that he dreamed about. It’s a theory, but I don’t think the text gives you good reason to hang on to it. There is no hint anywhere that chapter 2’s dream leads to chapter 3’s building project. The connection between the chapters is topical, not causal: both chapters are about statues, so it’s good narrative arrangement to flow from chapter 2 into chapter 3. You’re already thinking about statues and human empires and power – so you are primed to read the story about one of the greatest human kings flexing his muscles over his kingdom and demanding they bow down to worship a statue he’s set up.

As for the statue’s appearance, it’s huge (60 cubits high, or, in case you’re rusty on your ancient measurements, 90 feet) and gold (or probably gold-plated). The Colossus of Rhodes was seventy cubits high (107 ft), so if you check out pictures of that, you’ll have an idea of how Nebuchadnezzar’s statue towered over the plain of Dura.

The odd thing about the statue, though, is its proportions. It was ninety feet high, but only nine feet wide. There are a couple options for what this 90×9 statue might have looked like: either it looked like a really emaciated creature or it was an obelisk-like pedestal with a smallish statue at the top (think of the Washington Monument with a flattop and then a statue on top). Another suggestion is that the narrator means to present the statue in exaggerated proportions as part of the “satirical portrayal of paganism in this chapter” – so he presents “the statue as something abnormal and grotesque” (Lucas, 89).

The story doesn’t actually tell us what the statue was – Was it the king? Was it one of the Babylonian gods? In verses 12 and 14, the Chaldeans and the king himself refer to the statue when they talk about (or to) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – but their statements are less than decisive about the “identity” of the statue: the three exiles “neither serve [the king’s] gods nor worship the image of gold” that he set up. Take your pick.

Really, though, it doesn’t matter what the statue looked like or who/what it may have represented. All that matters is that the order is given to worship it – a command that any God-fearing Jew could not obey.

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About wendywidder

For LOVE of the WORD
This entry was posted in Babylon, Daniel 3, The Book of Daniel. Bookmark the permalink.

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